Eve leaned over to check on Sheridan, the flashlight firmly in her hand. "Good, she's still out," she said to herself. Sheridan appeared to be sleeping peacefully, but Eve knew that that was simply the work of the medication she had given her. The nightmare she had just lived through would be waiting for her to deal with when she woke up.
"I hope we can get your baby back for you, Sheridan," she said, getting down on her knees to check her patient's pulse.
Eve gently laid Sheridan's arm back down on the cushion. "This is the last thing I would want you to have to go through," she said, remembering her own pain when she suffered the loss of her first child.
Standing up, Eve shined the light back over at Julian, who was still lying on his side in the middle of the pit. She had covered him with a blanket and had put another blanket under his head. He was getting some of his color back, which she knew was a good sign. She noticed that he was starting to stir.
Eve rushed over to his side and got down on the floor beside him, laying the flashlight down on the ground. The beam made an eerie glow on Julian's face. She reached out and touched his cheek with her hand. "Julian, how are you feeling?" she asked, the love she felt for him abundantly clear in her voice.
"Cold..." he said softly, opening his eyes. He tried to focus them in the dark pit. Everything looked blurry to him at first. His eyes came to rest on the familiar face that he saw in all of his dreams... "Eve..." he said.
"I'm right here, Julian," she answered, rubbing his arm through the blanket to try to warm him up. "I'm going to go get you another blanket. I'll be right back."
Eve retrieved the only other blanket in the pit and spread it out over Julian. She knew the coldness he was feeling came from the blood he had lost earlier. The chills from the fever that had set in shortly after he was shot didn't help either. Eve wasn't sure if Julian was still delirious from the fever or not.
"Julian, can you tell me where you are?" she asked, reaching under the blanket and pulling out his arm so that she could check his pulse.
He squinted his eyes and blinked them several times, trying to focus on Eve's face. "Heaven..." he whispered. "It...has to be...Heaven."
Eve wasn't sure if Julian was hallucinating at this point or simply being Julian. She tried again. "Julian, what's the last thing you remember?" she asked.
"They were going...to shoot you..." he said softly. "Couldn't...let them..."
Eve let out a deep breath. Julian remembered some of what had just happened! That was a good sign. His pulse was also stronger now than it had been just a little bit ago. That, together with the color returning to his face, all pointed to the fact that he was starting to recover.
"Julian, honey, everything's going to be OK," she said, smoothing his hair with her hand. "I would never let anything happen to you. I love you so much." She bent down and kissed his cheek.
Julian reached his hand slowly up to his cheek. "I will get...shot more often...if I get...this kind...of treatment," he said, smiling weakly.
Eve laughed and wrapped her arms around Julian's neck, running her fingers through his hair. She knew then that the man she loved would be all right. She just hoped that he, like the rest of them, would be able to deal with the loss of Sheridan's baby.
The next morning, Beth sat on the couch, holding Sheridan's baby on her lap. She was trying to give the infant a bottle, but the child would not take it. Nothing Beth did could make the baby stop crying.
Exacerbated, Beth threw the bottle down on the couch and sighed. "What am I going to do, Mother? Why isn't she eating?"
"Because she misses her mommy," Mrs. Wallace said, heading closer to the couch with her walker. "I told you this wouldn't work, Bethie! Didn't I? I knew God wouldn't allow this to happen! He is not making this easy for you, and I for one am glad!"
"Oh shut up, Mother," Beth fired back. "She's just getting used to me and the bottle, that's all. I knew I never should have let Sheridan nurse her. Oh well, she'll be all right. I'm just glad I decided to bring her up here so she could get used to me before I called Luis."
"Luis is going to know in an instant that that baby doesn't belong to you! Look at the way you are handling her. You don't know anything about babies."
"I do too," Beth retorted. "And anyway, a lot of first-time mothers have problems getting started with their newborns. That's why they have the baby's grandmother help out. Of course, that's probably too much to ask from you..."
"I'm not that baby's grandmother!" Mrs. Wallace exclaimed. "I pity the kid if I were, because that would mean you really would be her mother, which is pretty scary. Who knows what kind of spawn you would give birth to?"
Beth shot her mother an angry look and stood up, trying to hold the wailing baby comfortably in her arms. "Maybe if I just walk with her, things will be better," she said. She began pacing back and forth across the floor.
"Oh great, now you have the baby going with you on your little neurotic trips across the carpet," Mrs. Wallace blared.
Beth rolled her eyes and was preparing to retaliate verbally when the door suddenly opened and Charlie entered.
"Charlie, I'm so glad you're here!" Beth cried. "Do you know anything about babies?"
"Oh, I had a lot of experience with all my little cousins when I was growing up, and of course you see a lot of babies when you're in the medical profession. Why, what's wrong?" she asked, looking from Beth to Mrs. Wallace.
"What's wrong is the baby won't eat. She only took a little bit from the bottle last night. She's hardly slept. I was up half the night! I am at my wit's end here, Charlie. If I can't get this baby settled down, then the whole plan's going to fall through."
"OK, OK, let me have her," Charlie said, taking the baby from Beth. She held her in the crook of her arm and smiled at her, talking baby talk. Beth and Mrs. Wallace looked at each other in surprise. They were amazed at Charlie's maternal instincts.
Immediately, the infant calmed down in Charlie's arms. "Now, where's the bottle?" she asked. "I bet you anything she'll eat."
Beth retrieved the bottle and gave it to Charlie. Sure enough, the tiny girl began to take the formula.
Relieved, Beth smiled. Although she was somewhat jealous of Charlie's rapport with the infant, she was so grateful that Charlie was able to calm her down and feed her. "Can you show me how to do that?" Beth asked. "For when Luis comes?"
Charlie nodded and carefully returned the baby to Beth's arms. "Here, you have to hold her like this... That's right. And it's good if you can talk to her while you feed her."
Beth began talking to the baby. "Mommy's here," she said in the sweetest voice she could manage. "You will love your new mommy. And Daddy's coming soon. Yes, he is. I can't wait until he sees you!"
Mrs. Wallace rolled her eyes. "It's just going to be one big happy family!" she shouted, throwing her hands into the air.
"Temporary family," Charlie corrected. "Right, Bethie? You and I are really going to raise this little baby. I think we're doing a great job already." She patted the baby's head while Beth fed her.
"That picture's enough to have made Norman Rockwell give up painting," Mrs. Wallace muttered under her breath, looking at the two psychopaths cozying up to the infant. "Lord, what is this world coming to?"
Luis picked up Sheridan's missing person file on his desk. Opening it up, he stared at the picture of Sheridan that was paper-clipped to the top of the stack of papers. "She is so beautiful," he thought, running his finger along the lovely face in the picture.
Luis's mind flashed back to when he had asked Sheridan to marry him in the gazebo. He had never seen her looking more beautiful than at that moment. It was such a magical time in their lives - the calm before the storm, you might say. And she had said yes! She had made him the happiest man in the world that day...
His mind then turned to their botched wedding.How beautiful Sheridan had looked walking down the aisle...Too bad Ivy had to go and mess everything up! But they had taken their honeymoon anyway. He remembered the last day he and Sheridan had truly been free to be together...such a wonderful time...and then the horrible boat explosion.
Shaking his head, Luis sighed. It had been two years since he and Sheridan had been together as a couple, other then some precious stolen moments...It seemed like a lifetime. Now, they were free to be together again, with Antonio out of the picture - but Sheridan was gone.
He thought of the baby they had created together - had it really been born, as he sensed? What was it - a boy or a girl? His mind drifted to a time in the future, where he was teaching a little boy to play baseball...and then onto another fantasy, where he was teaching a little girl how to dance, as she was standing on his feet. Luis laid his head in his hands. He couldn't help but get teary-eyed when he thought of his child...
"Luis, are you all right?" Sam asked, coming up behind him and placing his hand on his friend's shoulder.
"I'm OK, Sam," he replied, turning to look up at the police chief. "It's just hard, not knowing about the baby...and Sheridan...I want to find them so bad. My body aches just thinking about them."
"We'll find them, Luis," Sam said, trying to comfort the younger man. "We'll bring your family back to you."
Luis smiled. "You don't know how glad I am that you're on the case," he said.
Just then, another officer shouted from across the room, "Luis, you have a call on line two!"
Luis picked up the phone. "This is Officer Lopez-Fitzgerald," he said. "Beth? What's up?... What? You're kidding, right? ... You're serious?... When did it happen?... Is everything OK?... It's a girl? Really?... Beth, where are you now?... How far away?... You think you'll be there by seven?... OK, I'll see you then! Beth, I'm glad everything is OK with you...and the baby." Luis hung up the phone. He rubbed his hair, stunned.
"Luis, what was that about? Was it Beth? Did she have the baby?" Sam asked.
"Yes, she had a little girl," Luis replied, smiling in surprise. "It still doesn't seem real."
"Come on, I'll drive you over to the hospital," Sam offered.
"No, she's not there," Luis said. "She was spending a couple of days with her aunt in New Hampshire when it happened. She said she couldn't get through to me until now. I guess someone's driving her back right now, a friend of her aunt's. She should be in by seven this evening."
"Luis, when did all of this happen?" Sam asked.
"She said she had the baby two days ago," Luis replied. "That's odd...that she and Sheridan would both have their babies at the same time, especially when neither of them was due for another four weeks."
"That does seem strange," Sam admitted. "I guess it's just one of those things. So it's a girl, huh? That's great, Luis."
"Yeah," Luis said, smiling, "a little girl. I have a daughter."
"Congratulations!" Sam said. "This calls for a celebration. Come on over to my office; maybe I can find a cigar for the new dad in there."
Luis followed Sam. He felt numb all over. He couldn't believe that he was now likely the father of two babies, neither of whom he had yet seen. What he would have given for that to have been Sheridan on the phone, telling him about their baby. He shook his head sadly. "You may not be with me now, Sheridan, but you soon will be," he promised. "I'll have you and the baby here with me where you belong. I won't stop until I do."